On Thursday 2nd November we are joined by supreme pianist Janina Fialkowska at the Cambridge Corn Exchange for an evening of outstanding classics. Hailed by Classical.net as ‘...Canada’s First Lady of Chopin’, she performs the Second Piano Concerto by this much-loved, Polish composer. We found out more about our soloist...
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Have you always wanted to be a musician and how long have you been playing the piano?
My mother started me off when I was four. She was a good pianist who had studied in Paris before the war and was anxious to pass on her knowledge to her daughter. I was a willing accomplice even though I had no say in the matter. But already at age four, I thought playing the piano was lovely.
I really fell in love with music when I was eleven and heard Arthur Rubinstein play the Schumann and the Chopin E minor Concertos in Montreal with a very young Zubin Mehta conducting. I was bowled over by the performance and by the emotional power the music had over not only myself, but over the entire audience.
For how many hours a day do you normally practice?
In 2003 and 2004 I went through a series of operations on my left arm. Before that time I regularly worked six or seven hours a day. Nowadays it is more like three hours to preserve the delicate muscles. Quite frankly I seem to accomplish just as much in the three as I did when I worked for twice as many hours because I concentrate far more and I work a great deal in my head, away from the instrument. Besides, Chopin always told his students that more than three hours practice time in a day was stupid and counter-productive.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I adore gardening having come to it late in life. My husband and I built a house three years ago and we have a lovely terraced garden where I can be found, rain or shine every spare moment of the day. I am definitely learning by doing and can’t think of anything I’d rather do other than practise the piano. I’m also a walker; I live in Bavaria and the scenery is spectacular on most of my walks around the village....and I read endless British and Canadian mystery novels
Which is your favourite piece of music to perform and why?
I don’t have one single favourite, but I would count amongst my favourites as at least six Mozart piano concertos, the Beethoven Fourth Concerto, some lovely Schumann and Liszt pieces and anything Chopin wrote after the age of 17. Why? Because these pieces are incredibly beautiful and never lose their appeal; quite the contrary in fact...the more one listens and works on them, the more joy they bring.
What can audiences expect from Chopin's Second Piano Concerto?
Imagine a boy of eighteen in love for the first time...then add to the fact that this boy happens to be a musical genius and you get the Chopin F minor Piano Concerto. This is a piece of total perfection, full of drama, full of technical wizardry, and full of melodies to melt your heart. To play this piece, so full of emotion and excitement, is a dream come true for a pianist. For the audience it will hopefully be a total delight.
Don't miss Janina Fialkowska at Cambridge Corn Exchange next month!